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Mobile Clothes Washers, Fulfilling Needs, Enriching Self

By Omiko Awa
24 May 2015   |   3:02 am
EVERYONE wants to look good, sport neatly ironed clothes, yet not many have the time to wash and iron their clothes. They prefer hired hands to handle such chores for them.
Washer woman at work

Washer woman at work

…You could make N30,000 to N40,000 per week 

EVERYONE wants to look good, sport neatly ironed clothes, yet not many have the time to wash and iron their clothes. They prefer hired hands to handle such chores for them.

Not even the biting economy that has made most people to cut down on some luxuries will make some persons not to patronise the mobile clothes washers, especially as they reduce their stress and give them time to rest during work free days.

However, as there are people with less time to wash, there are also people praying for opportunities to render services that others cannot do for themselves and earn a living.

Most city people are facing difficult times doing their house chores, not out of laziness, but because they are hardly at home to do them. In most cases, husband and wife are pursuing different careers, leaving home early and returning late at night, while the children face similar situations, leaving home early too, for school and returning in the evenings to face their school assignments.

There is hardly time for some family members to work outside this tight schedule, which the economy or modern lifestyles have created. And to live happy life and suffer less stress, they engage people to do some of the things, they would ordinarily have done for themselves, like washing and ironing their clothes.

While some have allowed the big time launderers to handle their washing, others have welcomed the mobile clothes washers to do theirs at their convenience.

Giving reasons for using the house-to-house clothes washers, Mrs. Modupe Ajayi, says, “I have only Sundays for myself; my husband and I leave home very early everyday for work and return late in the evening. I am hardly at home to do the washing; so I allow the mobile clothes washers to do it for me on Saturdays, when the children are around. Apart from this, they are cheaper, controllable and easy to reach.”

Explaining why she takes up this menial job as a means of sustenance, Madam Seye, notes, “everybody cannot work in the bank. While some work in blue chip companies, others would have to work to provide services those in blue chip firms cannot provide for themselves. You cannot be here and there, because you can only be here or there; one place at a time.

“ I have done house-to-house clothes washing for 10 years now and the proceeds, favour and gifts I get have helped me to be where I am today?

“I make an average of N2,000 to N10,000 a week, moving from one home to the other at different times of the week, washing clothes. And the money I make has enabled me to open a petty trade business, which I do when the business is not coming or each time I finish in a good time.

“The job may not be rosy, but it also provided money for me to set up a petty dry food item, which would have been a mirage had I depended on any uncle or micro-finance firms for loans to begin it. Apart from the steady income, loyalty and hard work may make those you are washing their clothes to be charitable to ones family,” she adds.

On who does the ironing after washing the clothes, Madam Ajayi, says, “ in all the homes I wash their clothes, someone else, mostly the men are hired to do that because they know too well that I cannot combine both.”

According to Eno Bassey, who is doing the business as his main vocation too, it is just like any other business.

“I have done it for the past seven years. I started little from my church, then through hard work and honesty, I was linked to different families that I visit at different days of the week,” he said.

“I make N30,000 to N40,000 per week of six days. I wash, starch and iron the clothes; so, I get more than the ordinary washer man or woman that just washes and leave for others to iron the clothes. Sometimes, I work from sunup to sundown; so, it’s as good as working in any factory.

“But the good thing about it is that it draws one closer to his/her clients; imagine another person washing and ironing your undies, it builds such close relationship. For the fact that the washing is done at clients’ homes makes us a more trustworthy allies because the clients are sure of the water and the type of detergent we use.”

For Alfred Idoko, who was introduced to the business on loosing his job, the house-to-house clothes washing gives one the freedom to do other things; in fact, one has the privilege to decide whether to take it as a transitory vocation, something one does until a better job comes or what one would depend on to make a living. “This decision defines one’s vision and intention and even how to go about the business. For me I look forward to when I will have enough money to operate the business in a big way,” he notes.

Idoko reveals: “Despite the fact that young people are daily coming into it, we are yet to dominate the market. There are many customers out there that do not trust the corporate launderers for God knows why; so they take only their professional wears like suites and other sensitive wears to them because we do not have the machines to wash them, but leave their other clothes for us.”

Stating how he bills his clients, Idoko, says, “it all depends on what they want me to do, if it is ironing only, I charge according to the quantity and the delicate nature of the clothes and if it’s just wash and go, the price is also different. But if it is wash and iron the price is higher because it entails one staying till the clothes are dry, sometimes it might take two days.

“Generally, the quantity of clothes and the place of residence of clients also determine how much I charge. What I charge people living in GRAs and highbrow areas like Lekki and parts of Ikeja is different from what clients living in other suburbs pay. Another thing that could determine what I charge is how well a client could negotiate,” he discloses.

On what keeps him in the business, thought to be for women, Idoko discloses that the business has gone beyond that, he adds, it is not a business for women alone. He says, “materials like jeans trousers are not for women, you have to scrub them with brush; at times after washing about 10 pairs one is fagged out. It is not a business for lazybones; one needs to be a hardworking person to make the right type of money in the business. Do you believe that at times I do visit two families in a day, which is not an easy task?” he asks.

Commenting on the lucrative nature of the business, he reveals, “the money I am making is enough to keep me in the business.

I make enough to pay my bills, organise my life and operate a bank account. I spend nothing in running the business; no overhead cost, I am not constrained by power outage or time. It is a matter of finish, get your money and go, because the clients bear the cost of everything, right from the water to detergent and some even switch on the generator for me to iron their clothes.

It’s like being on a tax holiday and when I discover a particular client is not ready for me I move to the next person; I operate like a king and make my money.


What It Takes To Be A House-to-house Clothes Washerwoman Or Man
• Let people know that you are available and can wash their clothes.
• Put away shame as sometimes your clients maybe your age mate or somebody even younger than you are.
• Be ready to wash anything clothes – inner wears, stocks even towels – as most times clients use the opportunity that they are paying for your services to add anything in the name of clothes.
• Be honest, clients may sometimes forget money in the pockets, do return them, as this could endear you to their hearts and make them to introduce you to their friends.
• Do not cut corners, return remnants of washing materials like detergent, soap and others to your clients.
• Network, if you are a woman attend women meetings and the same for the men.